How to Make Up with Your Partner After a Fight
Every relationship is different, but most couples have fights. Partners that stay together for the long haul usually figure out a way to make up and move on. If you don't want to pretend the fight never happened and just wait for the tension to blow over, then learn how to make up in an open and healthy way.
- Look beneath the argument. There's a saying: "You're never fighting for the reason you think." It may look like you're fighting about money, sex, or something specific, but there's usually some feeling underneath that hasn't been fully expressed. This reluctance might stem from hurtful patterns in previous relationships or even childhood trauma. Identifying the root feeling can help you calm down. Common feelings that many fights can be traced to include:
- Inadequacy. You feel like you're not good enough, and you can't quite believe that your partner would want someone like you - at least, not for long.
- Fear of abandonment. You're worried that your partner will leave you - literally, perhaps by cheating on you or by becoming emotionally distant. A little bit of alone time after a fight is good, though. It lets each partner cool down so that hot-tempered things aren't said.
- Feeling taken for granted. You feel unappreciated, perhaps used.
- Communicate what's most true for you in one sentence. Learn how to practice nonviolent communication. Telling your partner something like "I feel scared when I see you talking to other girls," or "I feel angry I don't have the money to pay for this right now" allows you to get to the core issue and often helps him or her to understand your feelings without arguing about it.
- Take responsibility. Did you snap at your partner? Are you trying to control the outcome of the fight? Is it easier to get what you want by manipulating the situation rather than asking directly? We all do these things to one degree or another. If you can find a way to own up to your part in the argument, without trying to blame or wrong yourself or your partner for it, it may open up a whole new dialogue.
- Be humble. Sometimes if you can apologize for something you did (even if you didn't "start" it), it can disarm your partner and result in him or her apologizing as well. Something like, "This is not where I wanted this to go, and I'm so sorry it has. Can we take a breather from the disagreement, collect ourselves and try again, only this time less angry?" Always remember: don't apologize for things you didn't do just so the fight will be over. Be sincere.
- Let go of being right. Wanting to win an argument is the surest way to keep it going. It's a no-win situation and keeps you from truly connecting with your partner. There's an old saying: "Would you rather be right, or be happy?"
- Let your partner learn in his or her own way. You can only control yourself and your own pace of learning. If your partner isn't getting it, you can't force him or her to see what the issue your way. There's information in any argument for both of you, but it's impossible to make someone see things from your point of view. Either they do, or do not.
- If you're holding out for an apology, and your partner isn't giving it, consider openly forgiving him or her anyway. This kind of acceptance, if you don't do it in a condescending way, might show that you accept your partner's imperfections, which can help him or her be less defensive. Example: After succinctly expressing how you feel (as described earlier), say "I know you didn't mean to hurt my feelings by forgetting about our anniversary. I do still feel hurt, but I'm willing to trust that you didn't do it on purpose, and you'll try to remember next time. OK?"
- Appreciate your partner. The sooner you two can experience some form of joy and lightheartedness, the better. Successful relationships have a five-to-one ratio of appreciations to criticisms. Actions that create genuine positive feelings will help to replenish the emotional bank account of your relationship by noticing and expressing lots of things that you really like about your partner and yourself, and the way you are together. If you're still feeling down about the whole thing, though, start with yourself.
- Set boundaries. If your argument has been a nasty one, you may want to make an agreement with your partner about the boundaries and terms of your relationship. For example, "I agree not to call you nasty names." Or, "I'd like for us to agree that we talk about what's going on without yelling at each other."
- If you feel like you are always losing, or if an argument often ends with you begging for forgiveness even though you believed you were right, it may be worth learning .Recognize a Manipulative or Controlling Relationship or how to recognize a manipulative or controlling relationship.
- Learn from the argument. Is this argument similar to those you've had with others? If you keep repeating the same arguments, it's because there's some way in which you keep these issues going without realizing it. What can you learn from these problems? If you and your partner fight about one issue repeatedly and one or both of you cannot find a compromise (such as: one of you wants children, the other does not), then your relationship may not be a match made in heaven.
- Talk calmly and listen to each other so you can try not to let the fight happen again.
- No one wins if, once the argument is over, you feel disconnected from each other.